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One of the residential colleges at Northwestern University, the Communications Residential College (CRC) is housed in a four-story brown brick-clad dormitory called East Fairchild.

CRC, housing about 104 people, is open to any undergraduate student interested in communications, with entering freshmen gaining admittance by writing an application essay, and current Northwestern students gaining admittance by becoming a non-resident member and then taking part in activities. In practice, the mix of students living there is 40% radio/TV/film majors, 40% journalism majors, and the remaining 20% a little bit of everything else.

The three residence floors are each divided into four suites, with three or four double rooms and two or three single rooms surrounding a small lounge area that features uncomfortable couches. The suites used to be named for the color of the carpet in each one, but since some suites have had their carpets replaced with that of a different color, the names are now a matter of tradition more than anything else.

On the ground floor, in addition to the normal items found in any college dorm (TV lounge, laundry room, vending machines), there are several specialized rooms unique to CRC: a screening room with an LCD projector, a smaller screening room with a big-screen TV, a darkroom, and an audio production room that doubles as a carrier current radio station (its output is broadcast at 640 kilohertz and is audible throughout most of the dorm).

CRC also has its own dining area in the cafeteria located inside the 1835 Hinman dorm across Sheridan Road. Faculty members who have chosen to associate themselves with CRC are often found here at lunchtime, although it's unclear whether their main motive is to engage in spirited debate on an informal level with students, or to get a free lunch.

CRC also funds film and video projects that are produced, written, and directed mainly by residents; in the past, these have ranged from a collection of sketch comedy performed by puppets that won a student Emmy award to a parody of "The Empire Strikes Back" starring half the people in the dorm.

The place tends to attract a special breed of unique and creative people, many of whom stay active in CRC for their entire undergraduate career or even live there for all four years. After graduation, many former CRC residents keep in touch with each other through newsletters and periodic reunions, if not ending up living in the same town and seeing each other all the time...or even ending up married to each other, which has happened surprisingly often.

Although only in existence since 1981, the Communication Residential College has managed to contribute a fair number of notable persons to the media, to join Northwestern University's reputation for incubating distinguished scientists, journalists, and actors in their college years.


Trivia: In the 1990's, the zine world was flooded with output from many CRC alumni from the 1986-1990 years: Chip's Closer Cleaner, (Rowe), Ecdysis (Matt Wolka), Roulez (Brett Sonnenschein), Oatmeal (Tim Ereneta), as well as occasional works by Shemin & D'Abruzzo, Bonnie Sinnock, and Isa Helderman.

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